Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Wallabies on opium making crop circles

Wallabies snacking in opium poppy fields are getting "high as a kite" and hopping around creating crop circles.

Tasmania is the world's largest producer of legally-grown opium for the pharmaceutical market.

Tasmania attorney-general Lara Giddings told a budget hearing yesterday that she recently read about the wallabies in a brief on the state's large poppy industry.

She said: "We have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles.

"Then they crash. We see crop circles in the poppy industry from wallabies that are high."

A manager for one of two Tasmanian companies licensed to take medicinal products from poppy straw said wildlife and livestock - including deer and sheep - that eat the poppies are known to "act weird".

Tasmanian Alkaloids field operations manager Rick Rockliff said: "There have been many stories about sheep that have eaten some of the poppies after harvesting and they all walk around in circles."

Tasmania supplies about 50% of the world's raw material for morphine and related opiates. About 500 farmers grow the crop on 49,420 acres of land.

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